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This picture from my non-religious perspective

This is a shot I captured whilst walking through Waverley Cemetery on the Bondi to Coogee walk that I recently posted about here. It is a stunning walk, even the graveyard was fairly picturesque.

The picture below was inspired by my friend that stood in this spot to get the great effect. I liked his image that much I had to do the same.

IMG_8615

For me, this photo sums up the reasons why I am not religious. For some, this photo is a sign. A message from a higher power that has incorporated two things in life into one glorious view for us to marvel at. A person no longer with us that has been glorified by God at this moment when people are present to witness it. I didn’t look at the gravestone, however I can imagine this moment of spirituality for some would increase tenfold if it was a person with the same name or birthday. We seek patterns and coincidence and love when they occur.

But of course by taking a step to the left or right this picture would not be the same. It would simply be a gravestone with the sun behind it. The same if I held the camera higher or lower. For this shot to work, I had to make it work.

This does not mean that I don’t appreciate the view. This may be my favourite photo I have taken on this recent trip and I often look at it. I love it and not being religious doesn’t take my appreciation away from it. But it does help me to understand that in life we look for such patterns and apply a meaning because it is fun. It makes us feel good and telling ourselves that there is a logical and non spiritual reason why this often occurs is nowhere near as enjoyable as putting it down to something unexplained or wiser than us.

I am not very good at it, but I enjoy trying to differentiate between what I think is true because is it logical and what I think is true because it feels good. We are a very emotional species that likes hearing the truth when it makes us feel warm inside. If it makes us feel crappy, the truth is an inconvenience and this is substituted for a more pleasant alternative. Of course this is my personal belief but this is exactly what I was doing when I was a younger, more religious person. I see it as a blessing and a curse having OCD that I obsess over things and if I think I am believing something contrary to evidence because it feels good, the obsessive part of my brain won’t let it go until I find a rational reason as to why I believe it. If I cannot find one, I stop believing it. This is why I am the person I am now, with my current blog and opinions on religion and atheism. I used to be a lot more direct and not as compassionate in my opinions on religion once I had left it, however I know what it is like to feel rock bottom and having at least something to cling to and this has helped me to transform my blog into a one that anyone of any faith or opinion can reach out too and speak openly on. Of course some religious people are dicks, as any human is capable of being, so my rule is if you are nice to me I will be with you also. The golden rule if you will.

But yes, back to the photo. I think it is good to see this photo with logic, as with life itself. Not to just see it and assume something that reaffirms a belief but break it down and ask questions, maybe contradicting your own opinion. Yes it is good positioning, however why does the cross have to be at an angle for it to work? Why does it have to be this gravestone? Why a graveyard where the person has already passed and the sadness already suffered? To ask questions feels like breaking the shackles for me and liberates us of the thoughts that we have always been told to think, and opens up doors we feel uneasy about opening. Sometimes in life we are so grateful to open these doors and when looking back, do not want to imagine a life in which we didn’t.

 


 

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Happy blogging,

Sam

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30 replies »

  1. That’s a very nice camera angle indeed! I managed to get a shot of myself in a similar effect when I was taking pictures of myself with a finished project earlier this year. It looked pretty awesome.

    I haven’t discussed it at length on my blog, but I am also non-religious as well (I like to describe myself as a “humanist atheist”), and have lived religion-free for the last 15 years. I think I have more clarity about life and stuff like that without religion than I ever did with religion. Sometimes we just aren’t meant to know the unknown, and that’s okay; and sometimes our purpose in life is just to make the most out it that we can with what life we have to live.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi Sam and Crystal,

      I like the conversation here that you two have, and I also like your outlook in life.

      It is true, as Sam mentioned, that our emotional baggage and shackles are sometimes our own undoing and also restricting us from learning more about ourselves, the others and the world. Referring to your statements as follows:

      I am not very good at it, but I enjoy trying to differentiate between what I think is true because is it logical and what I think is true because it feels good. We are a very emotional species that likes hearing the truth when it makes us feel warm inside. If it makes us feel crappy, the truth is an inconvenience and this is substituted for a more pleasant alternative.

      I agree with your statements and like them a lot, and would like to invite you to read and comment on my special post at http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/the-quotation-fallacy/

      This post deals with emotional biases, emotional reasoning, confirmation bias and other cognitive biases.

      It is also delightful that you bother to ask those series of questions in the last paragraph of your post, even if you had not attempted to answer them in the post. They are very fine questions indeed, and can be thought-provoking to those who are perceptive and eager to contemplate them.

      Thank you for briefly commenting on my multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary post entitled “🦅 SoundEagle in Debating Animal Artistry and Musicality 🎵🐕🎶🐒🎹🐘🖼🐬🎨”. I really wonder what you thought of the very long conclusions of the post, and it would be lovely if you have further thoughts to leave at the comment section of the post.

      Happy New Year to both of you soon!

      Liked by 4 people

      • I guess I didn’t bother to answer the questions in the last paragraph of my post because I don’t feel they are actually relevant questions from my perspective. For example I don’t really want to question ‘why does the cross have to be at this angle for it to work?’ because it is nothing more than a sun behind a cross to me!

        Apologies for the short comment on your earlier post, I read it however I am incredibly rushed between blogging and commenting and working and my shift patterns are continually changing. But I aim to be better and find myself more time in 2019!

        Happy New Year to you too!

        Liked by 2 people

    • It is nice to meet you Crystal, I do agree that we should make the most of life in the life that we have. However I would say about the universe that we aren’t able to know the unknown rather than we aren’t meant to know, as that could imply that something is intentionally holding us back or that we aren’t allowed to know. That is how I see it anyway. We seem like very like minded people! I also feel like I have a lot more clarity in life and outlook of it.

      And your shot is a great one! I have just taken a closer look. Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The bit about humans liking truth only when it makes them feel good is so true. Very interesting post; thanks for sharing your thoughts (and cool picture).

    Liked by 3 people

  3. If you dont mind, i’d like to add my two cents as a religious person and operator of an explicitly religious blog.

    By my reading, you address two points regarding religion: Truth and the human tendency to look for affirmative “signs”.

    The second point first: Human brains are hardwired to look for patterns. So we tend to look for and cling to patterns that affirm things we believe. That is, however, not an analytical way of living; and when it comes to Faith it might be superficial to some and not for others. The facts if your photo are mundane: this same shot couldbe recreated in cemeteries the world over. Everyone has cemeteries, everyone has the sun, everyone can align the two. If that was all there was to faith, youmight be right to be cynical. However, one of the fundamental aspects of Christian faith, across most if not all denominations, is that God stepped out of eternity and became Man, thereby acknowledging that there is value in the Material world, in its proper proportion. If people can use material things to stoke the flames of Faith, they will do so, for aforementioned pattern seeking purposes. A person whose “flame” is out, or low, will take more stoking to get the same level of flame as someone who has already spent considerable time cultivating Faith. In short: symbolism affirms faith for the faithful, but it is not faith in and of itself. Symbolism reminds the faithful to glorify God with the beauty in this world, but it is not a message from God to focus on certain material things.

    Now, regarding Truth: there is a common fallacy that logic and reason are contrary to Faith. I find that Logic and Reason can be applied to make faith Stronger–just ask any follower of Thomas Aquinas. Those who try to use science to explain faith dont understand science; those who use faith to explain science dont understand faith. Logic and reason can be applied to both in good measure and imprive understanding of both. Truth is true no matter how we feel about it–but we all have feelings about it. Scientific Truth and Religious Truth are not opposites, but equals.

    Ill step down from my soap box. Thank you for your interesting and thought provoking article!

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thank you for adding your thoughts here, I appreciate it. I guess pattern seeking is needed in one sense as it is what helps us to see what is being consistent in this world, such as during experiments. However I do find that religious teachings are so vague that anyone anywhere can attribute such a sight to their own belief system and help to validate it. I guess that is what I was thinking during this post.

      And regarding scientific and religious truths, can scientific truths go hand in hand with religious truths of every religion, or just Christianity? As if they can go hand in hand with any (as I am sure religious people of other belief systems will say this also) then we have a problem!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Christian Teaching, specifically Catholuc teaching, in which i am most familiar, is actually fairly specific. In keeping with the premise that Truth is True no matter what we think of it, there are things which are intrinsically good or intrinsically bad, and for sny vagueries there is at least a rubric for evaluating which (to me) makes logical sense.

        Religion, taken as a whole, is indeed vague. Thats why I took (and i encourage all to take) great care in discerning where the capital-t-Truth is. There are some things we knoe in our hearts to be bad, but which some faitjs might say aren’t so bad. To paraphrase CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity: Different cultures or faiths mighy disagree on how many wives you ought to have, but theyll all agree you ought to be faithful to your wife.

        I cannot speak for other faiths, since I believe my Catholic faith yo be the True one. I would argue scientific and religious truth does blend well with religious truth. I know some faiths hold 6000-year-earth creationism to be true; Catholics are not bound to believe that. I am free to believe the big bang theory is the closest we have to a concept for the beginning of the universe, but I do believe however the universe began, it was begun by God.

        Other faiths have different positions but, at least insofar as your line of questioning goes, i believe i am accurately representing what I believe.

        Liked by 2 people

      • And as long as what we believe is presented in a civil and compassionate manner, I do not mind at all if we disagree in areas, much more so than I used to anyway! So thank you for providing your thoughts and opinions and it is refreshing to have a conversation rather than a heated debate, of which my blog was all too familiar with previously.

        I hope we both keep blogging throughout 2019, and this kind of positive engagement is commonplace everywhere! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post and beautiful picture! One of the things I love about photography is how a single picture can have so many interpretations. 50 people can see the picture and admire it for 50 different reasons. My belief is in the golden rule. 🙂 Thank you for sharing the beauty of the picture and for your thought provoking post!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My first thought upon seeing the image “Oh, the religious will love this one! It just illustrates how God is showing himself and he did it perfectly!” Then I read your piece and it was refreshing to see logic and rational thought spring forth. 🙂 I’m glad to be subscribed to your blog, Sam.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Probably too late to comment but loved your view on religion. I won’t say I’m an atheist but I’m certainly someone who questions everything that religion has to offer. I often see God as someone who always believed in progression and therefore we need to take that as a lesson rather than parrot out every line he said.

    Anyway, enough with the babbling. This photo is indeed cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Never too late to comment! I try to respond to every comment no matter when the post was uploaded 🙂

      And thank you for your perspective on religion, I am glad you enjoyed the post and picture despite our slight differences in ideology. I love having these conversations and it was great to read your insight.

      Thank you, and I hope you have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

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